Samson Forney ponders why men can’t be serious when talking about female sexuality.
Earlier this week, a Facebook friend (and IRL friend) of mine posted a Jezebel article titled, “The Most Important Thing Teen Girls Should Do But Don’t: Masturbate” with a caption that read:
“Interesting read, ladies. And gentlemen if you make disgusting comments or remarks I will delete them and possibly unfriend you, please refrain from being a [f*cktard].”
Right away I thought her warning was comical, but poignant. I’ve seen the types of articles and statuses she regularly posts, and I generally always agree with her opinions and politics (if I’m not mistaken, she calls herself a feminist, as do I)—however, the comments on them are sometimes incredibly asinine, and it usually takes away from the point she or the article was trying to make. As I’m sure you may have guessed, those comments predominantly come from men, hence the warning.
I hadn’t even clicked the link to this article yet before I hit the “view 3 more comments” link underneath to see if some guy would actually push his luck. Luckily, they hadn’t. But what I did find was a thought-provoking comment from a good friend of mine, D___:
“and what’s more interesting to me, of course, is how you felt the need to post a disclaimer so men didn’t leave inappropriate comments. Makes me wonder why men do that? I know them/us to be such intelligent, thoughtful creatures—so why the bathroom humor and/or shockvalue comments as a means of self-expression?”
My mental gears began turning. I didn’t find it so much interesting that she felt the need to post a disclaimer; I found it to be a necessity. Given the sexual content in the article, I’d expect to see at least one man attempt some kind of inappropriate joke. So D___’s comment made me think—why do men do that? Personally, I know that whenever I get uncomfortable, I start to get a little bit silly. A joke makes everyone laugh! It relieves tension! It makes an experience feel much less serious than it actually may be. As humans, we definitely use humor as an escape. Even if our jokes fall flat (or worse, offend), our initial intent is probably to reroute the topic of conversation more towards something we can handle. It is important to be reminded of the content of this particular post: Girls and masturbation (gasp!). This is a taboo topic for many. It’s something that is hardly talked about, and this is basically what the point of the article is—the absence of discussion on women and their masturbatory habits, and why we, as men, should be talking about them.
I immediately put forth my two cents on the thread in response to D____’s comment: “joking and being inappropriate are just ways to cover up for feeling uncomfortable and likely insecure of the notion that women can produce pleasure for themselves without ever needing a man.” Growing up, our thoughts have been indoctrinated with the sentiment that women are unable to do lots of things without the help of a man—sex included. This is reinforced in our society, our pop culture, our media, and it is completely inaccurate. But I think since we as men grow up being either explicitly or implicitly told this to some degree, it validates us. We revel in the thought that women need us for stuff. Maybe we even romanticize it—playing into the outdated gender roles of wanting to be the “man” of the house and other such cliché things. So, when that, albeit false, validation is challenged—some of us can get uncomfortable, and maybe even some of our insecurities are brought to the surface. These are the things we don’t want or necessarily know how to handle. But hey, there’s always an innocent, dirty joke to tell to lighten the mood and deflect this unwelcome feeling I have, right? …Right?!
I’d argue that’s wrong. I felt the need to point this out on the thread because we as men need to become more comfortable with being called out, with owning how, as a gender, we were collectively raised in comparison to women and we need to push against those double standards. What does it say about us if people are out there expecting us to revert to 5th grade humor when it comes to new and challenging concepts about sexuality, our bodies and the bodies (and emotions) of people we love?
We should be thinking, engaging, and contributing in positive ways because our voices can be valuable in these kinds of discussions. There, of course, is always room for humor, but we don’t need to use it as a deflection. Like D____ said, we are intelligent, thoughtful creatures. Let’s start proving that.
—Photo Tom Baguis/Flickr